After nearly five months, Arizona’s sham “audit” has yet to produce evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, and supporters of former president Donald Trump appear to be tired of waiting.
The audit of the vote in the state’s largest county was originally supposed to last 60 days, but it has dragged on as Arizona’s Republican Senate leader tacked on additional reviews and tried to subpoena more election equipment from Maricopa County. Cyber Ninjas, the contractor that was running the show for months, suggested in July that it may have found tens of thousands of fake ballots, but it couldn’t be sure without more information from the county; those claims were quickly debunked. Cyber Ninjas was supposed to submit an initial report of its findings to the Senate on Aug. 23, but failed to do so because its CEO Doug Logan and two others were said to have contracted serious cases of COVID-19. After multiple delays, the Senate’s lawyer told the Arizona Republic on Sept. 1 it would be “at least two weeks” before Cyber Ninjas delivered any of its reports on the audit and that one of the reports hadn’t even been written yet.
With no end in sight, two of Trump’s staunchest backers in the state said Wednesday that the continued wait is unnecessary — they’ve already seen enough, and the election should just be decertified.
State Sen. Wendy Rogers and Rep. Mark Finchem made the proclamations on Twitter on Wednesday within minutes of each other, calling on the state to “recall” its electors and decertify the election. “Do we need any more evidence?” Rogers tweeted.
Of course, Arizona cannot decertify the 2020 election and Joe Biden is president. Neither Rogers nor Finchem has a formal role in the ongoing GOP audit, much less any control over the state’s electors, Arizona residents who voted in the Electoral College in Phoenix on Dec. 14 and have presumably returned to their normal lives.
But Rogers and Finchem’s statements reflect a grasping at straws as the Arizona audit and efforts to copy that model in other states have yet to result in anything. August went by not only without a report from Cyber Ninjas but without Trump returning to the White House, a conspiracy theory that was floated by people including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and reportedly believed by Trump himself. Lindell held a “Cyber Symposium” in South Dakota in August where he promised he’d finally prove that the election was stolen, but that was a bust, too, with one of his own experts telling the Washington Times that Lindell’s data didn’t prove anything.
Just this weekend, Rogers tweeted to her 162,000 followers, “The audit is coming guys, I promise you. I get a lot of comments asking and people think I can speed it up but I can’t speed it up. … Also – other information is coming out I can’t disclose. Just know that it is all going to happen and this is real. Keep the faith.”
Rogers, who has been popping up at pro-audit events across the country this summer, has been calling to decertify the election since July and collecting signatures (and email addresses and phone numbers) on a petition to recall the state’s electors. Finchem, an early proponent of the audit, is one of several 2020 election deniers across the country who are running to be their state’s top elections officials next year. Neither immediately responded to a request for comment Wednesday.
Absent the official confirmation the audit was supposed to have provided already, Rogers and Finchem cited the debunked preliminary audit results and a “private canvass.” The latter refers to pro-Trump volunteers who have started canvassing neighborhoods themselves, asking people to verify their voter registration and who they voted for. The Arizona audit was supposed to include door-knocking voters, but that part of the plan was axed when the Justice Department sent a threatening letter suggesting it could constitute voter intimidation. As the Arizona Republic reported last week, these volunteers are working with a phone app whose origins are unknown that gives them the “names, addresses and publicly available voting information” of Arizona voters and maps them out to guide their canvasses. It’s all organized by Liz Harris, who lost a race for the state legislature in 2020, the Republic reported.
Harris put out a report on Tuesday claiming that the canvass had uncovered almost 300,000 ineligible ballots and recommended that the state ban voting by mail. The report says its cover photo is of a “vacant lot…that cast 2 mail-in votes,” but ABC15’s data reporter Garrett Archer quickly discovered that there is, in fact, a house on the property.
Rogers also pointed to a report released Tuesday by Seth Keshel, a former Army captain who has been name-checked by Trump in recent months for his claims alleging sufficient voter fraud across the country, including in Arizona, to hand Trump the presidency. Keshel has been putting out these reports since last year and they’ve been repeatedly debunked by elections experts and reporters, as was true for Tuesday’s document.
The election in Arizona, as in every state, has already been audited multiple times without finding evidence of widespread voter fraud. Arizona did its own random hand count of more than 5,000 ballots cast in Maricopa County in November and didn’t find a single discrepancy. The county itself, which is Republican-run, has also had two independent firms review its elections equipment, which also found no issues. Biden won Maricopa County by about 45,000 votes.
Neither Senate President Karen Fann nor Cyber Ninjas immediately responded to a request for comment Wednesday on when the Arizona audit will ultimately conclude. Both Finchem and Rogers tweeted calls Wednesday for all 50 states to start their own audits and to canvass voters.